Sunday, May 24, 2015

To Stay

It felt a lot later then it was when I woke up in the dark last night. It was only silent for about 10 seconds before the quick succession of 6 gunshots rang out in the street out front of our home. Everyone else around me slept; a mirace I don't take for granted.

I prayed in the tense moments afterwards, waiting for sirens while I asked for silence, knowing that the quiet would mean no one was hurt.

The only sounds in the aftermath were the wind chimes carried on the breeze below our window and one of my 4 murmuring in their sleep.

I've been asked often in the days since the shooting if there is a for rent sign in our yard; if this was the wake up call we needed to move us on and get us out.

But I know where the real battle lies.

Yes, there is very real danger here.

Tony and I were gifted with a few hours alone this morning and sat across from one another while we talked over summer plans and I shared how I had hoped to have a niece come and stay with us for several weeks and how I wanted to assure her mama that we would never place her in a dangerous situation.

He looked at me with the most tender smile and said, Kimberley, I think we need to admit to ourselves that where we live is dangerous. We can't change that or call it anything different.

So yes, here, right here in the street in front of me and the neighbourhood all around me, we face danger that is real and present.

But the danger I have been most aware of and the most affected by in the days since the stray bullets and the dented fence posts has been one that Peter warns about: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

I have felt it and known it in these last few days, as though choosing to not run and instead trust Christ has put a target on my back. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). The temptation has not been to give in to fear, but instead to allow the Enemy ground. Instead of abiding in Christ and being in prayer, to be distracted by mindless and mind numbing things.

There was a quiet turn around in the heat of the afternoon, as we pulled up to the little community garden we have joined and I began to turn over the dirt and get it ready for the tiny seeds. As my restlessness began to slow and little hands opened up and held potential life hidden within packets before dropping them into the dark of the earth.  As I turned on the water and sprayed it over the marked out mounds I realized that even this, this claiming this box and planting it and watering it and having my kids run all around the rows is an act of defiant worship. By planting life into a desperate area, we are mirroring what Jesus has done in our lives. What He is still doing and will continue to do in our lives until He calls us home.

What Satan sets out to destroy, Jesus instead brings beauty and life through the submitted lives of His own children. What an amazing privilege and honor to be a part of His plan.

I curled up on my comfy green chair when we got home this evening and pulled out my bible and sat down to read. That blonde curl of Zeruiah's still clinging to the armrest  from the nap she took here just a day or so ago, and it was these words that I turned to:

We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry...but as servants of God, we commend ourselves in every way; by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left... 2 Corinthians 6:3, 6-7

It's right there, can you see it? We do all things for God's glory by His power alone. He is the One Who keeps my fear at bay, the One Who gives me peace and gives me all I need for righteousness in my right hand and in my left. 

This evening, in the fading light, a girl just a little older than Lyla called across the street to me and asked if she and her little sister could come over and play. While their laughter filled our yard and I rocked in his dad's chair on our porch, a gang leader came riding up on his bike and leaned against the fence talking with Tony and giving Elias a high-five.

We have been given a holy privilege to serve Jesus here, to be a safe place, if even for an hour or so for those who desperately need it. Yes, it is dangerous here, the risks are great and the cost could be high. But He is worth it in all ways, always.

So I'll turn out my light and lay down on our bed and know that through the night, no matter what may happen outside of these walls or within, the One Who holds this spinning globe and names each star surrounds our home with His Presence, and we are held in peace. 

Friday, May 15, 2015


The laundry is spinning and drying again, another load tossed in and another one folded.  The monotony of the mundane has been what I've craved in the last 24 though I'm afraid to run out of dirty clothes because if I do, things won't feel normal again.

The sarcastic part of me sighs, really? Run out of dirty laundry with 4 busy little ones? But I push that voice down and strip sheets off of beds and turn that dial while the panel sings and I get lost in the rhythm of bending and sorting, pulling wrung out cloth to be dried while folding the clean pants and shirts - sorting once more into piles for little hands to take up those stairs and tuck into drawers before getting dirty again.

Zee presses her tiny nose up against the glass of the washer and I stand and watch her for a while. 

Yesterday, Lyla fell off the picnic table back near the basketball courts at Madison House. Her fall connected chin to cement and arm to wood and she came running home because I was still here with the littlest. For whatever reason, I didn't send her back after I checked it out and deemed her whole, but asked her to wait while I put shoes on me and Zee.

I was just saying those words as I walked from dining room to living room as that loud metallic boom began.

The words were out of my mouth before I could think, 

Get down on the ground, Lyla. Lay flat. Don't move.

...5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10...

I waited for the 11th gun shot, but it never came...only silence.  Coming right behind our house, I didn't even think anyone across the street would be affected.

I didn't know that the crossfire happened towards Madison House, that in aiming for the ones in the backyard of a house, bullets went flying haphazardly towards the playground.

I wasn't there when Elias went running by his daddy and Tony felt the distinct impression to pray for his son's safety moments before the chaos began.

I didn't hear the voice of one of our older kids yelling for the little ones to get down on the ground. I didn't hear his voice telling them when to start running into the building.

I wasn't there when Livie grabbed the hand of another scared little girl and they ran towards the safety of Madison House together. 

I wasn't there when someone mentioned hearing metal on metal while he was counting the number of shots.

I was only there in the aftermath of scared children and a panicked Liv who couldn't find me and thought I was dead.

I wasn't there...

Sometime during dinner and the calming down of little ones, Tony and a couple of the older guys walked the playground and the perimeter of the fence searching out the source of the pinging sound that was heard.

They found it.

They found them, actually.

When Tony first took over Madison House almost three years ago now, he felt a nudge to raise money for a fence - a sturdy fence. One that was hard to scale and could lock up tight and so he began a Fund a Foot of Fence campaign. 

The fence was put in within the year.

The smaller posts are maybe an inch in width, if that. They are strong, but not wide.

But God doesn't need much width.

As Tony went searching he found two indents on two separate posts, 2 inches of metal stopping 2 flying bullets.

One was in line where Lyla had been only minutes before.

The other was near where my other two had been playing.

I walked home a little early and placed my finger in that impression,

and I touched grace.

A little over a year ago we moved into these walls and a new way of living began. I wake up now in the dark to hear gun fire in the distance and I've had the police in my house at 2AM.

The cycle of laundry however, is the same here as it was there - wherever there has been.

And maybe that's why I keep finding myself near the neatly folded stacks throughout today. Not because I'm scared...though, I've cried. I've cried at the so close's and the what if's. I've cried at the one more loss of innocence in the eyes of my older 3. The tears marking the grief I feel at the hatred people have towards one another, the disregard of life - any life - and how quickly weapons are pulled.

No, the laundry pulls me close today because it reminds me of each step Jesus used to prepare my heart for here, because while laundry was being folded, while little ones have been growing into not-so-little ones, while seasons have passed and warm clothes have been changed out for cooler ones, He has been working on this heart - pulling my mundane into the middle of His will.

Those sheets on our bed that I've changed out today, they've held me in sleep in the "safe part of town", but now I know deeply of what the Psalmist wrote, In peace I will lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

I still remember in the days leading up to our move here on 4th Street, when my heart trembled at all the unknowns, Tony's younger sister wrote me the simplest of notes, filled with the words her pastor had shared from the pulpit that Sunday, and it was this:

You are bulletproof until God calls you home.

Two inches of fence proved the profound truth of that statement this week. 

So, I'll continue to sort and fold and wash, allowing my mundane to become my worship of Jesus, trusting that no matter where I am, for however long I am, He will use what I offer up to Him for His glory.

All family photos by the amazing Allison Davilla Photography